|TOWN OF ALTO BIOGRAPHIES
Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin
C. ABERCROMBIE, one of the early settlers and prominent citizens of Fond du Lac
County, residing on section 7, in the town of alto, was born in Lower Canada, July 5,
1827, and is of Scotch and English descent. The founder of the branch of the Abercrombie
family to which he belongs, in an early day emigrated from his home in Scotland to
America, locating in the New England States. The maternal grandfather was a native of
England but became a resident of this country prior to the Revolutionary War, in which he
served as a commissioned officer.
Dr. Robert S. Abercrombie, father of our subject, was born in New Hampshire, and wedded Miss Mary Been, a native of the Green Mountain State. After completing his literary studies, he entered the medical college at Peachem, from which he was graduated. In connection with the management of his other business interests he engaged in practice and for thirty years was also actively engaged in the lumber business. In his youth he removed to Canada, as did also the lady who became his wife, and their they formed the acquaintance of one another and were married. They were ernest Christian people, highly respected by all who knew them, and reared a family of eight children, four sons and four daughters, of whom our subject was fifth in order of birth. Mr. And Mrs. Abercrombie spent their entire married life in Canada, where the death of the husband occurred at the age of eighty-seven years, while his wife departed this life in [sic] when seventy-four years of age.
The subject of this notice is numbered among the leading and influential citizens of the county, and is one of its self-made men. The educational advantages which he received were very meager. The school-house was three miles from his home, and he was only permitted to attend a short time during the year. However, by subsequent reading and an extensive and active business career he has acquired a valuable fund of information and is a man of more than average intelligence. He keeps himself well informed on all leading issues of the day, both State and national, and is an interesting conversationalist. At the age of twenty-two years he began life for himself and for some time engaged in lumbering, in which enterprise he laid the foundation of his future success.
On the 2d of April 1849, Mr. Abercrombie was united in marriage with Miss Nancy Towne, a native of Canada, born June 29, 1830. Five years later, in 1854, with his young bride he left his old home and emigrated to Wisconsin, locating in this county. He then settled upon the farm where he yet makes his home, but in the meantime, at intervals, has resided elsewhere. His farm comprises 210 acres of fine land, which is highly improved and cultivated and displays the industry and enterprise of the owner. He also owns some property on the Pacific Coast, whither he has been three times. In 1869 he purchased a tract of land in Iowa, but after residing thereon for ten months sold the farm at an increase of $4000 upon the purchase price. For several years he was also engaged in the wholesale flour trade in the east, representing the Brandon Mills. He carried on the Ensign House at Brandon as early as 1856, and in 1886, in company with his son, embarked in the cattle business in Kansas, but the drouth and fall of prices caused them to abandon the enterprise after four years. Mr. Abercrombie has been remarkably successful in almost all of his business transactions, and has secured for himself and family a handsome competence. He is industrious, energetic, sagacious and far-sighted, and possesses a steadfastness of purpose which will not brook defeat. He is a close observer, and in his extensive travels has gained a knowledge of the world and its ways, which he could never have acquired from text books.
To Mr. And Mrs. Abercrombie have been born seven children, five of whom are yet living: Ada A. is the eldest; Avaline A. married J. L. Patton, and by their union have one child; Amanda E. died aged four years; William R. is the next younger; Maud L. died aged three years; Nellie J. wedded Nathan Ulm, and Loren T. married Jessie Ostrum, and has two children. The parents are both members of the Universalist Church. In politics, Mr. Abercrombie is a Greenbacker, with strong tendencies toward the Prohibition party. He has been a member of the European Secret Service Force for nine years, and is one of the honored citizens of this county, where he has made his home for more than a third of a century. He commands the respect and confidence of all by his upright life and sterling worth, and none know him that do not esteem him. (Portrait and Biographical Album of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, Chicago, Acme Publishing Company, 1889)
ROBERT GRAHAM, farmer, See. 1; P. 0. Brandon; he was born in Eskdalemuir, Dumfrieshire, Scotland, on the 24th of May, 1829; he is descended from one of the oldest families of Scotland, his ancestry dating back nearly four centuries. "Sir John the Graham," a prominent member of the clan, is known in history as the friend Sir of William Wallace, and his exploits as a Scottish Chief, Marquis of' Montrose, are immortalized by Sir Walter Scott. The subject of this sketch was married in Scotland, on the 18th of February, 1853, to Miss Jane Inglis, of Roxboroughshire, Scotland; three years after marriage, they came to America, attracted by the glowing reports given by friends who had found homes in Wisconsin; on the 12th of August, 1856, he and his "bonnie bride" took dinner in one of the rooms of his present fine residence, which was it that time the entire dwelling; he has lived in Alto continuously to present date; he was a shepherd in Scotland, and had saved but little more than $100 with which to commence farming in this town; he first worked out by the month, but soon bought land and enjoyed the high prices of "war times;" he paid $9,500 for his present farm of 190 acres; he has a few acres of marsh, but nearly all his farm is high, beautiful prairie, unsurpassed by any in the township; he has spacious grounds inclosed with his residence, which stands upon the corner of two well-traveled roads; he raises live stock and grain; his barns indicate the thrifty farmer. They have had five children, one, a son, died in 1874, aged 21 years; the living are William, John, Elizabeth and George. William is married and lives in Brandon; this son and a partner, named Clark, run a steam feed-mill on Mr. Graham's farm; the engine is used a portion of the time in connection with a steam thrasher; the mill has a daily capacity of six tons. Mr. G. has been District Clerk for a dozen years, and Side Supervisor two years. He is one of the Deacons of the Brandon Congregational Church and his family are also Congregationalists; he is a reliable Republican. He has many of the characteristics of' the representative Scotchman--is moral, industrious. attached to his countrymen and to "Bonnie Scotland." (The History of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1880)
JOHN KASTEIN, farmer, Sec. 23; P. 0. Waupun; born March 10, 1835, in Gelderland, Holland; son of John William Kastein; his mother's maiden name was Theodora Terhurst; came to America with his parents in l847, and settled in the town of Metomen, Fond du Lac Co., Wis.; lived there six or seven years, then came to Alto and located on Sec. 23; his mother died Feb. 14, 1867; father still living. Was married, Nov. 30, 1858, to Ellen Giabenstein, who was born Aug. 12, 1836, in Gelderland, Holland; daughter of Henry and Johanna (Sleister) Giabenstein; has ten children living--Johanna (now Mrs. William Lovmans, of Alto); Theodore, John, William, Elizabeth, Rudolph, Antoinette, Maria, John, Angeline and Robertus; all living with parents except Johanna; has lost one--John William, died in July, 1864, aged 4 years and 9 months. Mr. Kastein has held the office of Assessor for the last four years; Supervisor several years; also Clerk of the School District, and has been one of the Directors of the Waupun Farmer's Insurance Co. for the last five years; in politics, Democrat. Has 160 acres land, worth $40 per acre. Both members of the Reformed Church. (The History of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1880)
JOHN KLOOSTERBOER, farmer, See. 23; P. 0. Waupun; born Dec. 14, 1817, in Holland, Province of Gelderland; came to America in 1849, and settled in the town of Alto on See. 9; came to Sec. 23 in 1861; has followed farming ever since he came to this country ; had no English education in Holland, but took an English-print newspaper (the New York Tribune), when he first came to this country, and soon learned to read and speak English. In March, I841, he was married, in Holland, to Fannie Groothedde, who was born April 27, 1804, in Holland; her first husband's name was Derk Van Wechel, who died in 1838, leaving four children--Ella (who died in January, 1875), Johanna (now Mrs. John Straks, of Alto), Arend (who lives in Iowa), and Anna (now Mrs. William Klumpers, of Alto). He has 374 acres of land in Alto, divided into three farms, worth about $15,000. He is a member of the Reformed Church, and a Republican. (The History of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1880)
JAMES MCELROY, retired farmer, Waupun; born in County Armagh, North of Ireland, Oct. 17, 1809; son of William McElroy; his father was John McElroy, and the family originally came from Scotland; William McElroy and family came to Canada in the fall of 1821, and engaged in farming; William died Oct. 8, 1871, at the good old age of 93; James was brought up to work, and, at an early age, earned his own living; he used to chop wood, and cleared land for from $2.50 to $6 per acre; by dint of industry, he accumulated enough of money to buy fifty acres of wild land in Canada, which he cleared and sold; he then bought 100 acres of Church reserve land, worked that until 1836, when he sold out and went to Michigan to settle on ninety-three acres--paid $10 per acre, and afterward sold for $30 per acre, and came to Wisconsin in 1848 (he had been here in 1845, prospecting), and settled on 160 acres in the towns of Alto, Waupun and Trenton, then added eighty acres more, and afterward forty more; he now owns one of the finest farms in this part of the country; in May, 1872, he moved into the city of Waupun; through his industry and untiring energy, he now has a competence; Mr. McElroy, in the town of Alto, was Supervisor two years, and County Commissioner two years, and was ten years Chairman of the Board of Supervisors; in 1863, was elected to the Assembly, and served on several committees. Married, Jan. 16, 1834, Harriet E. Taylor, daughter of Capt. John Taylor, who was a soldier in the war of 1812; their children are Eliza (married A. Roney), John W. (is farming in the town of Trenton), R. B. McElroy (is in Milwaukee in the commission business--he married a Miss Burnham), Allen T. (married a Miss Ackerman); two children died in infancy; Mr. McElroy and wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and have been for about forty years; he has been Class-Leader, Trustee and Steward, most of this time; he has been President of the Old Settlers' Club ever since its organization, and has been President of the Waupun Mutual Insurance Company ever since it started; he has been an Odd Fellow many years, and has taken all the degrees, and attended the Grand Lodge, and Mrs. McElroy is a member of the Rebecca Lodge, and has also held all the offices; Mr. McElroy has also been a Mason many years, and belongs to the Temple of Honor and Good Templars also. He owes his success in life to his unceasing hard work, indomitable perserverance and untiring industry. (Souce uncertain; provided courtesy of Bev McElroy, 5/15/1999).
JOHN ALBERT MEENK, farmer, Sec. 25; P. O. Waupun; born Oct 12, 1820, in Gelderland, Holand; came to America in 1844, arriving in New York City in August; lived in Westfield, Chautauqua Co., N. Y., till 1845, when he was joined by his parents, two sisters and five brothers; the whole family came to Wisconsin and settled in Alto, except Henry, who went to Texas. Mr. Meenk was married Feb. 2, 1850, to Henrietta Veenhuis, who was born in October, 1821, in Gelderland, Holland, and died July 24, 1857, of consumption, leaving two children--Jacob and Garret William, both living in Alto; Garret William with his father. Was married the second time, Nov. 17, 1858, to Anna Cornelia Wubbels, who died April 12, 1868, aged about 52, leaving one child by Mr. Meenk (he second husband), Gertrude. Was married the third time, Jan. 27, 1870 to Mrs. Alida Venhuis, whose maiden name was Droppers; has 180 acres of land, $40 per acre. Member of Reformed Church and a Republican. (The History of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1880)
JOHN D. MEENK (deceased) was born in Gelderland, Holland; came to America, with his parents, in 1845, and settled in the town of Alto, being among the first settlers of the town; lived first in the north part of the town, but sold out in I865, and removed to Sec. 23, where he resided till his death, which occurred in the fall of'1873, of consumption, after an illness of several years; he was but a child when his father, Garrett Meenk, came to America. He married Cynthia Loomans, daughter of John Wm. Loomans, who came to America from Holland in 1844, and to Alto in I847, where he is still living. Mr. Meenk left ten children--Garrett (lives in Waupun), William, Jane (now Mrs. Garret Gyshers, of Alto), Mina, Della, Hattie, Anna, Caroline, Hannah and Albert: all living on the homestead, except Garrett and Jane. Mrs. Meenk was married the second time, Feb. 10, 1880, to Derk J. Nigel, of Minnesota. The homestead consists of' eighty acres of land on Sec. 23, with good buildings; P. 0. Waupun. (The History of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1880)
GEORGE F. POND
George Pond was awarded the Medal of Honor 16 May 1899. Citation: With 2 companions, attacked a greatly superior force of guerrillas, routed them, and rescued several prisoners. Rank and organization: Private, Company C, 3d Wisconsin Cavalry. Place and date: At Drywood, Kans., 15 May 1864. Entered service at. Fairwater, Fond du Lac County, Wis. Birth: Lake County, Ill. Pond is buried at Fort Scott, KS. [http://members.tripod.com/~wisconsin2/honorlist.htm]
H. W. POND
JAMES B. POND
As a staunch anti-slavery Republican, Pond joined a Wide Awake club in 1860, and he and his brothers were quick to volunteer for service at the onset of the Civil War. Arriving too late to find a berth in the 1st Wisconsin Infantry Regiment, Pond attempted to enlist again after Bull Run, receiving a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in Co. G, 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry, a company that included two of his younger brothers as well. The 3rd Cavalry served in Kansas and Missouri throughout the war, engaged in some of the nastiest guerrilla warfare. The 3rd Cavalry Regiment and 2nd Kansas (Colored) Infantry were victims of a brutal surprise attack and massacre by William Quantrill's irregulars in October, 1863, during which Pond distinguished himself for his courage in single-handedly manning a howitzer and repelling the raiders. Despite his efforts, Quantrill's men killed Maj. H.S. Curtis and 65 Federals at Baxter Springs, and many more at the camp Pond defended, many of whom were executed after they had surrendered. Pond and both his brothers came through unscathed, a fact they attributed to the prayers of their devoutly religious mother. Pond was later promoted to Captain.
After the war, Pond traveled throughout the country, ending up in Salt Lake City in the early 1870s. In about 1874, an opportunity presented itself for Pond to make some money, when Anna Eliza Young, 19th wife Brigham Young, "apostasized" from her Mormon faith and was enticed to embark on a speaking tour in the east. Pond, in the right place at the right time, secured a position as booking agent for what became a highly lucrative tour, and subsequently branched out in conjunction with the Redpath Lyceum Bureau into managing other speaking tours throughout the U.S. and Canada. He left Redpath to begin his own lecture bureau in New York City in 1879, and over the next twenty years, became the nation's premier lecture agent. Pond promised his solidly middle-class audience "concerts, lectures and all descriptions of musical, lyceum and literary entertainments," and delivered such luminaries as Henry Stanley, George Kennan, Bill Nye, James Whitcomb Riley, Thomas Nast, Mark Twain, Booker T. Washington, P.T. Barnum, George Washington Cable, Ellen Terry, Joseph Jefferson, and Henry Ward Beecher.
Pond wrote numerous magazine articles, autobiographies and stories, as well as at least four books based on his experiences as a tour promoter and manager. His books included Overland with Mark Twain (Elmira, N.Y., 1992), A Summer in England with Henry Ward Beecher (N.Y., 1887), and Henry Ward Beecher (Brooklyn, 1897), and Eccentricities of Genius (N.Y., 1900). [The James B. Pond Papers, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan, http://www.clements.umich.edu/Webguides/NP/Pond.html]
James Pond was awarded the medal of honor 30 March 1898. Citation: While in command of 2 companies of Cavalry, was surprised and attacked by several times his own number of guerrillas, but gallantly rallied his men, and after a severe struggle drove the enemy outside the fortifications. 1st Lt. Pond then went outside the works and, alone and unaided, fired a howitzer 3 times, throwing the enemy into confusion and causing him to retire. Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, Company C, 3d Wisconsin Cavalry. Place and date: At Baxter Springs, Kans., 6 October 1863. Entered service at: Janesville, Rock County, Wis. Birth: Allegany, N.Y. Pond is buried in Bronx, N.Y. [http://members.tripod.com/~wisconsin2/honorlist.htm]
WILLARD E. POND
BEENERD TER BEEST, retired farmer, Sec.16; P. 0. Waupun; born in Gelderland, Holland, June 6, 1806; came to America in 1856, and settled on a farm in Alto; lives with his son, Derk, on the farm which he bought in l859. He was married, Dec. 9, 1829, to Miss Kathrina Louisa Bosch; they have had seven children; one died in Holland, and one died in the United States Army; the living are Evert, Henry, Derk, Alida and Diena. He is a Republican; both himself and His venerable wife are members of the Reformed Church of Alto, and are in good health and a happy old age. (The History of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1880)
DERK A. G. TER BEEST, farmer, Sec. 16; P. 0. Waupun; he was born in Gelderland, Holland, on the 8th of June, 1841; his parents came to America in 1847, and settled in Alto, where the entire family have since lived. He was married, March 13, 1879, to Miss Grada Johanna Heusinkfeld. He has lived on their present farm since 1859, but did not buy it till 1878; he has 80 acres, fully 45 of which are under good cultivation; he raises all kinds of grain and live stock. He is a Republican; hiinself and wife are members of the First Reformed Church of Alto. (The History of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1880)
HARRY C. WILLIAMS, farmer, Sec. 31; P. 0. Waupun; he was born June 19, 1809, in Lewis Co., N. Y.; his grandfather was a Revolutionary soldier, and his father was in the war of 1812; his early life was spent on his father's farm; he worked several years in clearing up a farm in the wooded section of York State. He was married, May 1, 1833, to Miss Rebecca Wilcox, with whom he has happily journeyed nearly to the fiftieth mile-post; after marriage, he continued farming in the same county till 1847, when he came to Kenosha, Wis., then Southport; his parents and relatives, to the number of twenty-two, came about the same time, some by water, others by land, but all met at Kenosha. The subject of this sketch, and his parents, located on Spring Prairie, Walworth Co., where the parents died in 1865. Mr. Williams remained on Spring Prairie four years. In 1851, he settled in Alto, on some land which he had previously "entered," and which is a part of his present farm of 520 acres, three-fifths of which is tillable, the remainder is marsh, which is sometimes as valuable as the uplands. He raises cattle--has, at present time, one hundred head of graded Durhams; keeps about fifty cows. For the last nine years he has also had a cheese factory, which uses the milk from 100 cows, and which is superintended by his wife; they have commodious barns; within their fine residence are found evidences of refinement and wealth; they have two daughters--Sarah E. and Mary R.; the eldest is married to G. W. Adams, a prominent business man of Chicago; Mary R. is an amateur artist of ability and culture; some of her paintings are worthy of a professional. He has been Chairman and also Side Supervisor; be was never a member of any secret society. He is a Republican, and himself and wife are Congregationalists. He has passed through the "hard times" of pioneer life; he remembers that, in 1853, he drew wheat to Markesan, and was unable to dispose of it, except for cotton bags, which he did, giving a bushel of good wheat for each bag. Now, blest with competency and friends, they are cheerfully passing on to ripened age. (The History of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1880)
URIAH WOOD, farmer, See. 4; P. 0. Brandon; was born Dec. 25, 1830, in Schoharie Co., N. Y.; his parents removed to Wyoming Co.. N. Y., 1832, where he resided until 1844, when they came to Wisconsin, and settled in Kenosha Co., but remained only one year; in the fall of 1845, they located on the farm which they now own in Alto. When migrating to the West, young Uriah, then 12 years of age, drove one of the teams from New York to Wisconsin. The next. year, after becoming of age, he went across the Plains and spent two years in California. Was married, on the 17th of June, 1855, to Miss L. Agnes Mares, formerly of Canada. In December of that year, they settled upon their present farm, which is finely improved; they have spacious barns, excellent farm conveniences and a fine residence; the farm consists of 230 acres, mostly of choice prairie land, and 200 are under good cultivation. This land is conceded to be unsurpassed for beauty and fertility, and the owner is known for his energy, thrift and thorough farming; raises both grain and live stock; is somewhat or a specialist in sheep-raising; thirty-three of his fine flock of merinos are registered in the Vermont Merino Sheep-Breeder's Association. Has seven children--Henry C., Charlotte M., E. Addie, Agnes A., Dora C., Uriah D. and Maud M. He has always declined official honors, but, notwithstanding his protest, he was sent to the General Assembly in 1878, from the First District of Fond du Lac Co.; is a member of Brandon Lodge of A., F. & A. M. Himself and wife affiliate with the Methodist Church, and so also do the parents of both; he is a Republican. His fellow-citizens pronounce him a successful farmer and a capable man. (The History of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1880)
|Last updated 5/26/1999||This site represents an ongoing effort to collect information related to the history of the town of Alto. If you have information to share, please contact Bob Schuster by email at email@example.com or at 6020 Kristi Circle, Monona, Wisconsin 53716, (608) 221-1421.|